Following the international buzz for his debut, Leaving the Atocha Station, comes 10:04, Ben Lerner's electric second novel that blends artistry and wit, intelligence and tenderness. A unique collision between art and life by an extraordinary young writer. For readers of Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Lethem, Sheila Heti. Leaving the Atocha Station was hailed as "one of the truest (and funniest) novels...of his generation" (Lorin Stein, New York Review of Books), "a work so luminously original in style and form as to seem like a premonition, a comet from the future" (Geoff Dyer, The Observer). Now Lerner's second novel departs from Atocha's exquisite ironies in order to explore new territories of thought and feeling. In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child, despite his dating a rising star in the visual arts. In a New York of increasingly frequent super storms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water. In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called "hilarious...cracklingly intelligent...and original in every sentence," Lerner captures what it's like to be alive now, when the difficulty of imagining a future has changed our relation to both our present and our past. Exploring sex, friendship, medicine, memory, art, and politics, 10:04 is both a riveting work of fiction and a brilliant examination of the role fiction plays in our lives.read more
In his second novel, an associative, self-aware roman a clef that ably blends cultures high and low, Lerner (Leaving the Atocha Station) explores the connections between contemporary life, art, and literary writing. The unnamed narrator is a 33-year-old Brooklyn-based novelist, poet, and teacher, at work on his second autobiographical novel, a follow-up to his debut, which was a surprise success (though a limited one). Much of his future hangs on the book's marketability, and whether he can secure a sizable advance for it. Though he is in poor health (possibly Marfanoid), he has consented to the request of his best friend, Alex, that he help her conceive a child by being a sperm donor for her. Still, he frets over the degree to which he wants to be involved in the process and worries that it might jeopardize his relationship with the "mysterious" artist Alena. In his spare time, he also mentors a boy named Roberto, whose company leads him to even more self-doubt regarding his fitness for fatherhood. Lerner's insistence on showing off his skill and his display of syntactical acrobatics sometimes result in overwrought constructions that detract from the narrative momentum, but readers who can overlook the sluggish start will be rewarded with engaging streams of thought and moments of tenderness. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.